When David Price took the mound on Sunday night he was not only pitching for himself, and his team, but for those fans who never lost faith in the Red Sox, who knew they were witnessing something special and, like Price, had been unfairly maligned, told they were stupid, because they did not comprehend that the Red Sox could not beat good teams, and most of all because they stood by the tell lefthander who shut down the Dodgers giving the Boston faithful their fourth World Series championship in 15 years, and cementing the 2018 Red Sox as one of the greatest teams ever to play the game.
For those who may have doubted, but didn’t quit, on this team, didn’t rush to post on social media, or call into sports radio, to declare the season over at the first sign of trouble, who stood in the fire with their team, who always referred to the Sox as “we” and not “them,” Price’s victory, and the Sox championship, tastes so much sweeter.
They have the right, as Price did, to be defiant in front of their critics. Like Price, they now hold the trump card. Their faith and Price’s pitching shut up all the vicious haters. Yes, they played Price’s and the team’s failing well, but now they have been silenced. Those of you who trashed Price throughout the season were proven wrong. It’s time you tip your cap and call Price your daddy.
As for his postgame presser, after having been maligned for everything from his accent to his dog’s name, while being falsely labeled a bad teammate, he had every right to push back at his accusers, most of whom have accepted Price’s reaction as his due and owing, and those who didn’t would have only been happy by hearing Price responded to the mostly white press corps by saying “yes Massa, no Massa, thank you, Massa,.”
Price was the best story of the dominant Red Sox post-season but by no means the only one. You have just witnessed the greatest Red Sox team of all time, (please, don’t quote me stats about the 2004 team, they were terrific, but teams are more than the culmination of statistics), and one of the best teams ever assembled, along with the ‘76 Reds, the ‘70 Orioles, the ‘84 Tigers, and the ‘08 Yankees, counting team who were not granted a pass to the World Series by winning the most games in the regular season. None of these teams had to beat two 100 win teams, or, except for the Yankees, win three playoff series. We are still too close to the season to judge how good the Sox were, like a friend of Leonardo DaVinci who was shown the Mona Lisa a few seconds after it was completed and asked: “What do you think?”
Baseball teams like to model their franchise after the latest World Series champ and if that holds Alex Cora and Dave Dombrowski may have freed us from teams built around the bullpen with players who perform short, rigid roles. The Sox had five quality starters on the Series’ staff and toggled them between the bullpen and the first inning. The Sox did have brilliant performances from their pen, lead by Joe Kelly, who changed from being an underperforming flamethrower to a light’s out closer candidate, simply by getting a haircut. Matt Barnes, Ryan Braiser, and Heath Hembree all had their post-season moments, but this year belonged to the starters, with Eduardo Rodriguez proving he is a growth spurt of maturity away from being a top line pitcher; Rick Porcello, who would run through a burning barn for a win; Chris Sale, who, at the end of the series, was voted “Most Likely To Have Post Season Surgery;” Price; and Nathan Eovaldi, who earned the right to have a team grossly overpay him this offseason with money that might have been earmarked for Craig Kimbrel, who kept more opponents in a game than he shut down, and possibly turned off so many teams that he will have no choice but to take short money to re-sign with the Sox in late March.
It is fitting that Steve Pearce, who only came to Boston because Cora and Dombrowski were unafraid to release Hanley Ramirez, a move made to solidify the clubhouse, not save a few dollars, as was widely, and falsely, reported, was the MVP because it was the end of bench players, Pearce, Mitch Moreland, Brock Holt, Jackie Bradley Jr, Christian Vasquez, and Eduardo Nunez, who starred in the postseason. No one on this list will receive a Hall of Fame vote, but 40 years from now, when they are introduced at the new Fenway Park, built on oceanfront property in Worcester, they will all be cheered like kings.
This season also proved, as Crash Davis said, when he learned of Nuke Laloosh’s father’s appearance at a game was affecting the pitcher’s performance, “your old man is just as big an asshole as everyone else,” that all the reporters, like longtime Sox hater Dan Shaugnessey, the bloggers, the podcasters, and the radio hosts are just as big an asshole as the drunken guy from Revere sitting in Section 21 who incoherently yells at Cora. No one is smarter; no one is giving you an insider’s view, no one knows something you don’t. We are all in the same boat of ignorance. There is no reason to believe the guys who got on the boat for free or were paid to be there. That doesn’t magically make them smarter. A lot of time was spent tearing down this team, and it was proven that none of those “reporters” knew a damn thing. Never have so many been so wrong about so much.
Most of all credit goes to Cora, not only for his spectacular in-game decisions but the way he kept every player involved in the game and them believing they could contribute. Many managers would have given up on Price, Bradley, Blake Swihart, Kelly, Barnes, Kimbrel, Eovaldi, Ian Kinsler, or Holt during the season but Cora stood beside them, and in the end, it paid off as he pulled together this group to perform like one of the greatest teams ever assembled. Kudos also to Dave Dombrowski who has been criticized as much as Price. Many followers, including this space, thought his failure to add a bullpen arm would be the Sox downfall. It is time to give him his due and start talking about a Hall of Fame induction for the man who has built two World Series winner more than 20 years apart.
In 1968 I was given an LP called “The Impossible Dream: The Story of the 1967 Boston Red Sox,” a collection of snippets of Ken Coleman’s broadcasts from the ‘67 season, by my father. That round piece of scratched vinyl was my introduction to baseball. I was too young to remember the ‘67 Series, but my father and I talked about it endlessly, thanks to that record. This year was the first World Series the Sox participated in, since my father’s passing. Baseball bonded us more than anything else. I haven’t been able to talk to him about this season, but perhaps that is what this blog has been, a letter to him like I sent him when I was in college, telling him My father was a bit of a curmudgeon, but he would have enjoyed this season and cherished this championship.
I hope you did too. If you didn’t, it is quite possible you let a season of a lifetime pass without consuming every last drop of enjoyment.
BENNY & THE BETTS PODCAST (EP 97)
RED SOX ARE WORLD CHAMPS! WE REFLECT ON THE JOURNEY TO THROUGH OCTOBER! IS THIS THE BEST RED SOX TEAM IN HISTORY?
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